On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, former WCW President Eric Bischoff talked about being re-hired by WWE in 2019 to run Smackdown. Bischoff also discussed the criticism that Vince McMahon has received lately regarding being out of touch. He mentioned how Vince’s formula has worked for so long that it’s hard for him to adapt and change and switch to a formula that’s unproven.
“That’s such a hard one,” Bischoff said. “It’s because it’s such a complex answer. The entertainment industry is changing every single day. It’s true that Vince is committed to a formula that has provided an unbelievable level of success for the wrestling industry as a whole. There isn’t anybody that can look at what the WWE has accomplished in terms of its global significance in the world of entertainment and not recognize that the formulas Vince McMahon relied upon were unquestionably amazing success stories and they worked.
“Now, do I think there may be some reluctance to adapt new formulas in the ever changing nature of entertainment? Yes I do. Do I understand why people are reluctant to change those formulas? I do. There’s a difference between resisting change and being out of touch. Out of touch suggests you just don’t understand the psychology of storytelling, you just don’t understand the product as it should be presented in today’s environment.”
He also mentioned how McMahon has advertisers and sponsors to please and that his decisions can’t always just be made to directly please the fans.
“WWE has to walk this really fine line of satisfying the audience while maintaining the relationships they have with advertisers and sponsors,” Bischoff said. “It’s taken WWE a long time to build that, they’ve spent 20 years developing the product and the platform that appeals to advertisers. There’s things I’m sure the WWE would like to do creatively that they just can’t because they know the blowback they’ll get from advertisers.”
Bischoff spent four months with the company last year as the head of Smackdown before being replaced by Bruce Prichard. Bischoff talked about the moment he knew he was done with the company and where the decision for him to leave came from.
“I was really passionate about something that got shutdown so fast I barely got half a sentence out of my mouth,” Bischoff said. “I didn’t want to believe that, I asked myself what could I have done differently, how can I present myself differently.
“There was a moment, I was sitting on a park bench at 4 o’clock in the morning where I was so wound up and angry. I didn’t want to admit it but deep down I probably knew this wasn’t going to work.”
Multiple wrestlers who have left the company, including The Revival and others, have noted that the creative team is often too scared to confront Vince with any issues. Bischoff discussed if people in the company are afraid to speak up in front of Vince and said he didn’t want to comment on it.
“I don’t want to go there,” Bischoff said. “I don’t want to speak for other people and the environment they are in, but I will say Vince is a larger than life personality. When you say job scared, I would venture to guess the majority of people that worked there when I did are still there, and many of them have been there for a long long time.
“I think the exact opposite is true, that doesn’t mean that the process is as flawless as it could be. I think the best way to get the best creative is to make it as much fun as possible.”
While Bischoff was the Executive Director of Smackdown, Paul Heyman held the same title on RAW. Heyman ran Raw for almost a year as the executive director before geing let go last month. Bischoff discussed Heyman being let go from his creative role and gave his thoughts as to what’s next for the advocate of Brock Lesnar.
“I was disappointed for Paul in a way,” he said. “But I could also relate. I took it not at face value, but having been in the position Paul was in, it didn’t surprise me. Paul is an amazingly talented dude who’s had a very successful career and will continue to have a very successful career wherever he goes or if he stays with WWE till the end of his career.”
“I do know that Paul is respected enough in the industry, is talented enough and is still passionate enough that whatever Paul wants to do he’ll be successful at. I also felt relieved for him in a way. I’m not going to read the text I sent him or his response but Paul’s going to be just fine.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.